July 11, 2022

STERLING-KNIGHT

Sterling-Knight Syndicate (1920-1921)
Sterling-Knight Motor Co. (1921-1922)
Cleveland, Ohio
Sterling-Knight Co. (1923-1926)
Warren, Ohio


This is a Sterling-Knight radiator emblem (1921-1926)   mjs
Size: 69mm high 41mm wide     MM: Unknown (poss D L Auld)

The Sterling-Knight was planned by James G "Pete" Sterling, who left his job as chief engineer at the F B Stearns Company in 1920 to build a luxury car using the Knight sleeve valve engine. The venture was financed by a group of Cleveland businessmen called the Sterling-Knight Syndicate. Three test cars were built and the Sterling-Knight was introduced at the Chicago Salon in December 1920 and at the Cleveland Automobile Show in January 1921.

The Sterling-Knight Motor Company was incorporated in April 1921. Pete Sterling continued to develop his car and only 50 cars were produced before the post First World War slump resulted in most of his financial backers pulling out.

New finance was secured in Warren, Ohio and production moved there in May 1923 and the company was reorganized as the Sterling-Knight Company. The first new Sterling-Knight cars appeared in mid-summer of 1923. The Sterling-Knight was a 78 hp six-cylinder car offered in four body styles with a more expensive four-passenger offset coupe added late in 1924. The company had to operate on a cash basis from 1925 due to continuing financial problems. Production continued on a limited basis until the company was bankrupt in December 1926. 

Total Sterling-Knight production was less than 500 cars.

Emblems

The almost complete lack of original period photos of Sterling-Knight cars showing the radiator and the very few surviving cars, make it particularly difficult to put dates to Sterling-Knight emblems.

The first representation of a Sterling-Knight logo or possible emblem was a crude drawing used on an announcement of the Sterling-Knight by the Sterling-Knight Syndicate in the Chicago Tribune in January 1921, see below:

Sterling-Knight logo (1921)  chicago tribune

The officially registered Sterling-Knight trademark was claimed to have been in use from May 1921 after the incorporation of the Sterling-Knight Motor Company, see illustration shown below:

This is the Sterling-Knight trademark (1921)  wendel

The following plated blue enamel Sterling-Knight emblem uses the trademark design shown above. However, emblem collectors should beware, as all the examples of this emblem that I have seen have been Pulfer reproduction emblems, which were based on the trademark design.

This is a reproduction Sterling-Knight radiator emblem   twc

I do not know, if there was an original Sterling-Knight radiator emblem with this trademark design. If an original Sterling-Knight with this design could be found, it would be extremely rare.

Sterling-Knight brochures and advertisements from 1923 show a variation of the registered trademark, see example shown below:

Sterling-Knight brochure cover (1923-1925)   ebay

This depicts the actual Sterling-Knight radiator emblem, see the blue enamel Sterling-Knight radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post and again below. This Sterling-Knight radiator emblem is likely to have been used from about 1921 and is very rare.

This is a Sterling-Knight radiator emblem (1921-1926)   mjs
Size: 69mm high 41mm wide   MM: Unknown (poss D L Auld)

This Sterling-Knight radiator emblem can more rarely be found plated, see example shown below from the Al Thurn collection:

This is a plated Sterling-Knight radiator emblem alt

The following small, round blue enamel Sterling-Knight emblem is a mystery. I have not found any original period illustrations or photos of Sterling-Knight cars showing this emblem, which is very rare.

This is a Sterling-Knight emblem ( c1925-1926 dates uncertain)   mjs
Size: 41mm diameter    MM: Unknown (some D L Auld)

It has been suggested that the round Sterling-Knight emblem shown above was a radiator emblem used after the company reorganization following the move to Warren, Ohio in 1923. This seems doubtful, as the peak production years for the Sterling-Knight were 1923-1924 but it is harder to find the small round emblem than the larger rectangular radiator emblem. 

It has also been suggested that the small round emblem was introduced for the final couple of years of the Sterling-Knight, say 1925-1926, and this may indeed be correct. However, the Sterling-Knight Company was suffering serious financial problems from 1925, which resulted in very limited production of the Sterling-Knight on a strictly cash basis with debts rising ahead of bankruptcy. It seems unlikely that the Sterling-Knight Company would have spent money it didn't have on a new radiator emblem before it declared bankruptcy in 1926. But, attaching a new radiator emblem on unsold cars to give the appearance of a new model was not uncommon in the America automobile market during this period. 

If you are able to confirm the dates of use of this Sterling-Knight radiator emblem, please let me know, in order to update this post.

The following is an aluminum Sterling-Knight hubcap, although I cannot confirm the dates of use of this hubcap:

This is a Sterling-Knight hubcap (dates uncertain)    mjs






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